President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. – Canvass Day Address
November 8, 2022
Pictured above: Your newly elected Seneca Nation Councillors. L to R: Jeffrey Gill, Joshua Jimerson, Geraldine “Bird” Huff, Odie Porter, Tina Abrams, Marta Kettle, Maurice John, Sr., J. Conrad Seneca.
Hello, everyone. Nya:weh sgë:nö’, gagwe:göh.
First, I want to congratulate all of the elected officials who are being sworn-in today. I look forward to working with each of you to serve our people.
I also want to thank those who are completing their terms in office for your dedication and commitment over the past few years.
Thanks also, of course, to my family for their support throughout this election and in all that I do.
Most of all, I want to thank you – the people of Onöndowa’ga’ – for the trust and confidence you have shown in once again electing me to lead our Nation. I will work every day to honor your trust.
These next two years will be some of the most important in our recent history. During my last term as President, we saw the onset of the pandemic and experienced the dramatic changes and impacts it brought to our community.
Even though COVID doesn’t dominate the daily headlines like it once did, we are still confronted by its lingering challenges. How we continue to address and move beyond those challenges will be a test – a test that requires leadership, strength and vision. That is what this administration, working together with Council and Nation Executives, will deliver to our people every day, and I am confident that we will have a full recovery from this unprecedented situation.
We must seize, create and deliver opportunities to strengthen and expand our economy and improve the quality of life on our territories for all Senecas, in areas like housing, economic development, healthcare and more.
We must continue to address problems in our community, including crime and threats from outsiders, with strength and purpose to ensure that our lands are a safe haven for our people, and not for those who seek to do us harm.
How do we do that? We do that together as one, united and strong Seneca community. It takes all of us standing shoulder to shoulder, speaking with one voice and committed to the shared purpose of making our Nation and our communities the best they can be.
Progress is the onward movement toward a destination or goal. As Senecas, we share the same goals – the goals of self-determination, sovereignty and prosperity for the seventh generation. If that is truly our destination – if we are to realize those goals – then we cannot be divided. We must come together. I know that we can, and I am confident that we will.
Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that there are threats and challenges to our sovereignty, most notably from outside governments. Those challenges are as old as our dealings with those outside governments – taxation, threats to our land and economy, and a blatant disrespect and disregard for our treaties, our people, our history, and our heritage.
Today, the people of New York will elect their next leader. That person, among other things, will take a seat at the negotiating table with the Seneca Nation for a new gaming Compact.
No single issue is more important to our Nation, to the thousands of people we employ, and to the Western New York economy in general, than a fair gaming Compact.
We know how important it is. Whether or not New York’s next governor – whomever it might be – views our Compact as a priority remains to be seen.
Regardless of who sits across the table from us, our message will be clear: it is beyond time for New York State to respect the Seneca Nation, to truly negotiate in good faith, and to agree to a Compact that finally levels the playing field that New York has manipulated every day since our Compact was signed 20 years ago.
We are NOT New York’s convenient ATM. We are a sovereign nation and part of the lifeblood of this region.
We are Onöndowa’ga’ and our path of progress leads forward from this place and this moment. Together, we will make our voice heard and, united, we will reach our destination.